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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Czech mate: video-on-demand in Prague

In Czech Business Weekly, a reminder that not every tech or marketing evolution comes from the U S of A: Pavla Kozáková reports on a local experiment in video-on-demand online, profiling Ivo Lukačovič, who may be the Czech Republic’s answer to Mark Cuban.Lukcovic200563.jpgThe Czech Republic’s domestic online portal Seznam.cz is the top search engine rivals, besting even Google. Late in June, “the Seznam.cz portal will launch video-on-demand service Kinomania.cz, where users can for Kč 45 download a copy of a movie… for one day.” [The Beta version is up now.] [T]he company’s strategy is to stay local, adapting innovations for the Czech market, and there are no plans for international expansion for the next five years.” Lukačovič founded Seznam in 1995, after admiring Yahoo. “Despite Internet penetration in the Czech Republic being around 2% at the time, and while mostly students were using the portal, it started making money from advertisements almost overnight… “We’re a very local company and we want to stay as local as possible”… adding that the company’s strategy for the next five years is to take the best services or innovations available and adapt them for local conditions… Seznam, in cooperation with software distributor Alef Nula [launches] Kinomania, and its pilot version, at kinomania.cz, was launched May 17. Based on BitTorrent technology, which is commonly used on peer-to-peer (P2P) sites and allows users to download not only from the original kept on the server but also from other users, the Kinomania project lets clients legally download a film for viewing on a one-day basis.


The fee per download is Kč 45, a price comparable to… a video or DVD rental. “The success of the project depends on the choice of movies available,” Lukačovič said, pointing out that if the selection is limited to B-quality movies, Kinomania will be doomed… Alef Nula is in charge of the copyrights negotiations with the distributors, and so far kinomania.cz [has] over 40 films on the Web, including the Czech blockbuster comedy Snowboarders… Seznam asks clients to use its own payment system – seznam peněženka (e-wallet). Seznam launched the e-wallet this January, enabling users to deposit from Kč 100 to Kč 10,000. Currently between 20,000 and 30,000 clients use e-wallet. “We aren’t considering broadening the ways in which customers can pay for the movie,” Lukačovič said, pointing out that in order to keep the film rentals cheap the transaction fees must be minimal. Kinomania was also granted a Kč 25 million subsidy from the Ministry of Informatics as a part of the ministry’s program to support broadband penetration. Part of the sum is still pending the approval of the European Commission in June.” [Photo: Czech Business Weekly.]

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“With every table in the dining room occupied and me, the only waiter, neglecting the needs of a good fifty patrons, I approached Roth. Holding out Balls as a numbness set into the muscles of my face, I spoke. “Sir, I’ve heard you say that you don’t read fiction anymore, but I’ve just had my first novel published and I’d like to give you a copy.”

“His eyes lifting from his iPhone, he took the book from my hands. He congratulated me. Then, staring at the cover, he said, “Great title. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself.”

“These words worked on me like a hit of morphine. Like two hits. It felt as if I was no longer the occupant of my own body. The legs had gone weak, the ears warmed, the eyes watered, the heart rate increased rapidly. Barely able to keep myself upright, I told him, “Thank you.”

“Then Roth, who, the world would learn sixteen days later, was retiring from writing, said, in an even tone, with seeming sincerity, “Yeah, this is great. But I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”

“I managed, “It’s too late, sir. There’s no turning back. I’m in.”

“Nodding slowly, he said to me, “Well then, good luck.”

“After which I went back to work.”
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“Any form of physical or sexual assault is a very serious matter, potentially a legal matter. But I’m also wondering, what about having some kind of “extreme asshole” clause? I know lots of people who have been abused verbally and psychologically. That’s traumatizing, too. What do we do with that?  It takes a lot of energy to be an asshole. The people I admire most just aren’t interested in things that take away from their ability to make stuff. The people I really respect, and that I’ve met who fit this definition, have a sense of grace about them, because they know that there is no evolving and there is no wisdom without humility. You can’t get better if you behave in a way that shuts people off. You can’t! You don’t have all the ideas necessary to solve something. You don’t! I’m sure if you spoke to Harvey in his heyday and said to him what I just said to you, he would believe that he accomplished all that he had because of the way he behaved.”
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